LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A cross-country trip. A flu bug. An unbeaten
opponent on an unfamiliar floor.
None of it could slow down Corey Brewer, and his teammates
followed his superb lead in another November masterpiece for
Next up is Kansas, the toughest test yet -- but these Gators have
had more than enough answers to every question they've faced so far
in defense of their NCAA title.
Brewer had 20 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and six
steals to lead another impressively balanced attack in Florida's
school record-tying 17th consecutive victory, 101-68 over Western
Kentucky on Friday night in the Las Vegas Invitational.
Taurean Green had 19 points and six assists, and Al Horford
added 16 points and 11 rebounds as the Gators (6-0) rolled over a
solid Hilltoppers squad with a 28-6 run to close the first half of
Florida's 26th straight win over nonconference opponents.
Brewer, the Gators' versatile junior forward, did a bit of
everything in their outstanding first half with 13 points, seven
rebounds, four assists and four steals despite battling the flu.
"I'm just a little sick," Brewer said. "We had to get out on
the break and get runs started. We had to come out with a lot of
Seven players scored at least five points apiece as Florida took
an 18-point halftime lead and coasted from there, with Brewer
finishing four points shy of his career high.
"He certainly set the stage for us," Florida coach Billy
Donovan said. "Corey's energy kept us hanging around, and he made
some great plays in transition. He was terrific."
The Gators' win was comprehensive: They were 20-of-22 on free
throws while outrebounding Western Kentucky 44-21 and making nearly
61 percent of their shots.
Joakim Noah added 10 points as six Gators scored in double
figures while tuning up for Saturday night's showdown with No. 10
Kansas -- and this dominant performance showed the Jayhawks should
Though Kansas will have the backing of several thousand fans at
the Orleans Arena, the 4-1 Jayhawks struggled to finish off Ball
State 64-46 in the early game before the Gators showed off in their
first contest of the season away from Gainesville.
"Although we are in Las Vegas, we are in Lawrence (Saturday),
which should be a challenge for our guys," Donovan said.
The defending national champions added a few more milestones to
their remarkable run in their first appearance in Las Vegas in
nearly 21 years. Florida equaled its season-opening winning streak
during last season's championship run -- and also won its 19th
straight game in November over the last four seasons.
Courtney Lee scored 16 points and Benson Callier had 15 for
Western Kentucky (4-1), which will face Ball State on Friday night.
Tyrone Brazelton added 13 points as the Hilltoppers gave solid
efforts, but simply couldn't keep up with Florida's talent.
Western Kentucky actually started well, with strong defense and
two 3-pointers from Callier on the way to an early 26-22 lead. But
after Donovan called a timeout and switched to a zone defense, and
his team responded with every bit of its aggressiveness and
athleticism in one dizzying run after another.
"Guys were hyped up at the beginning, but when they came back,
we didn't know how to respond," Callier said. "It caught a lot of
us off-guard. We didn't know how to respond in that situation."
The Gators scored the next 13 points, including two baskets and
two assists by Brewer. After Western Kentucky finally leveled the
court with consecutive baskets, Florida finished the first half on
a 15-2 run featuring six consecutive points by Noah.
Brewer hit a 3-pointer in the final second of the first half,
then sprinted across the court and straight to the locker room with
his jubilant teammates behind him, celebrating a 50-32 lead.
Florida steadily increased its lead early in the second half,
prompting Western Kentucky coach Darrin Horn to slam down his
clipboard with enough ferocity to send his felt pen flying to
center court from his timeout huddle.